Colorado voters in November will become the first statewide electorate in the nation to decide whether the unborn should be granted “personhood” under the law, pro-life advocates announced today.
Officials with Colorado for Equal Rights, which is sponsoring the proposed state constitutional amendment, confirmed state officials notified them enough valid signatures had been verified to place the issue on the election ballot.
The Colorado secretary of state’s office confirmed 103,377 valid signatures, far surpassing the 76,047 required for the amendment, the group said. Officials with Colorado for Equal Rights said it will be the first time in U.S. history the issue of personhood will be decided in a statewide election.
Kristi Burton, spokeswoman for Colorado for Equal Rights, and her mother announcing when the organization turned in the signatures of more than 131,000 Coloradans in support of the personhood amendment
“The people of Colorado have spoken, the secretary of state’s office has certified our signatures and our equal rights amendment will be on November’s ballot,” said Kristi Burton, a spokeswoman for the organization.
“All humans should be protected by love and by law, and this amendment is a historic effort to ensure equal rights for every person,” she said.
The group earlier turned in more than 131,000 signatures, officials said. The voters now are being asked to extend the U.S. Constitution’s protections to the unborn, something supporters say the U.S. founders intended all along.
In a campaign that opponents fret is a direct challenge to the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Consitution grants a right to abortion, the Colorado personhood amendment is a simple proposal.
“This proposed constitutional amendment will define a person in Colorado as a human being from the moment of fertilization, the moment when life begins,” according to a statement at Colorado for Equal Rights.
“This amendment will establish a cornerstone for protecting human life in our society … and we all know this is the right thing to do,” the statement said. “This campaign is not about the power of money – it is about the power of truth.
“We are giving Colorado voters an opportunity to vote their conscience and protect the most innocent and helpless ones among us. If life is protected from the very beginning, Colorado for Equal Rights believes that we can transform our nation from a culture of death into a culture of life,” the group said.
The sponsors assembled more than 1,300 volunteer petition circulators.
“We at Colorado for Equal Rights are incredibly thankful for our many
volunteers who worked so hard for each signature we delivered to the secretary of state’s office and the churches who stood behind us and
supported us,” Burton continued. “This victory is the voice of the people
and all credit goes our Creator.”
Officials said the effort puts Colorado, where the nation’s first state law allowing abortion was written by Dick Lamm, a former governor, at the front of efforts to protect life in the U.S.
“It gives us a foundation before we can make other pro-life laws,” Burton said.
The same plan has been put forward in several state legislatures, but Colorado’s campaign is the most advanced across the nation, she said.
Abortion industry leaders such as Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado are opposed to the plan.
But personhood arguments started gaining momentum after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the procedure known as partial-birth abortion can be restricted.
Groups, including Focus on the Family, noted it was the first court opinion in years that actually supported abortion restrictions and said it was a moral victory, while others, including the America Life League, countered that the court ruling actually would not prohibit a single abortion, just a way of doing them.
The Colorado plan targets a loophole U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun created when he wrote the original abortion opinion.
He concluded: “(If the) suggestion of personhood [of the preborn] is established, the [abortion rights] case, of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life is then guaranteed specifically by the [14th] Amendment.”
By defining the unborn as a person, supporters believe, voters can simply spread the covering of constitutional protection over them, too.
As WND reported, a recent Colorado case highlighted what supporters describe as the need for the change.
In the case, a Colorado judge dismissed some charges against a man who caused a fatal car crash, because the victim, at 8½ months of a pregnancy, had not yet been born.
“‘Person’ is a defined term for purposes of the homicide statutes,” wrote Judge Richard Gurley in a March decision in the case involving the death of Lileigh Lehnen, the born-alive daughter of 26-year-old Shea Lehnen.
“The definition states that ‘person,’ when referring to the victim of a homicide, means a human being who had been born and was alive at the time of the homicidal act,” the judge said.
Lileigh Lehnen was born during an emergency C-Section after the November 2007 accident that was triggered when Logan Lage, 24, apparently drove on the wrong side of the road and crashed his vehicle headon into Lehnen’s car.
Lileigh Lehnen lived several hours and died of asphyxia, according to Mesa County Deputy Coroner Rob Kurtzman, who concluded the baby’s death was a homicide and said the collision damaged the mother’s placenta, limiting blood flow to the newborn.
Lage was facing a series of charges because of the baby’s death, but his public defender, Will McNulty, challenged them on the grounds that the state law excluded the baby from the possibility of being a homicide victim.
The judge’s order said Colorado law doesn’t allow Lileigh Lehnen to be considered either a “person” or a “child” at the time of the crash.
“This outrageous ruling is a clear example of they hypocrisy of Colorado law,” said Burton at the time. “If a child like Lileigh is not a person, what is she? There is no other answer.”
Leslie Hanks, a longtime activist in the pro-life movement in Colorado, has said the affirmation that all “persons” have certain natural, essential and inalienable rights including the right to life is exactly what the nation’s founders had in mind when they established the country.
“Colorado, which regrettably was in the forefront of the movement to deny the right to life to millions of the unborn, has now taken the first step to restore the right to life to all Americans, regardless of age, dependency, national origin or condition,” said John Archibold, a founder of Colorado Right to Life as well as National Right to Life.
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